Sperm Count Boosted by Walnuts, Reduced by Saturated Fats
Research is confirming that boosting male fertility is associated with our diet. Turns out that eating walnuts will boost a man’s sperm counts. On the other hand, too much saturated fats reduce sperm counts according to scientific research.
Most of us realize that walnuts are not just delicious tree nuts. They are also good for our heart. But most of us didn’t realize that walnuts were also significantly healthy for us because they increase a male’s fertility and boost sperm count.
Male fertility from walnuts
A 2012 study showed that eating just 75 grams of walnuts a day for three months increases sperm count. It also increases male fertility. Aren’t these the same things? Yes and no.
The research, from the University of California at Los Angeles recruited 117 young volunteers (men of course) who were in healthy condition. They also consumed a typical western diet. The scientists had 59 of the men eat 75 grams of walnuts per day for three months. The rest of the men (58 of them) didn’t eat walnuts or any other tree nuts.
Before and after the three months, the men were examined for sperm count and sperm health along with blood tests. Those who ate the walnuts experienced a significant boost in sperm quality – vitality, sperm motility and sperm morphology. Sperm aneuploidy measures, which test chromosomes, were also improved among those who ate the walnuts for the three month period.
Infertility issues widespread
Epidemiological research has estimated that some 70 million couples around the world suffer from infertility issues. From 30% to 50% of infertility issues are due to fertility among men. Between three and five million men seek fertility treatments every year.
The research was led by UCLA Professor Wendie Robbins, Ph.D., R.N. “The positive finding of walnuts on sperm may be a result of their unique nutrient profile,” Dr. Robbins stated after the study.
Dr. Catherine Carpenter, an associate professor of medicine at UCLA commented:
“these findings are not surprising when you look at the nutritious content of walnuts, however the results are amazing considering the impact they might have on men of all ages, including older men, and men with impaired fertility.”
The research findings correlated fertility improvement with the walnuts’ alpha-linolenic acid content, along with other nutrients.
Dr. Robbins suggested that the male’s diet is rarely considered in modern fertility issues:
“Diet is not just maternal territory anymore.”
Walnuts provide many nutrients
Walnuts contain a bunch of healthy nutrients. Just a cup of chopped walnuts contains 18 ounces of protein, or about 15% by weight. Walnuts contain many of B vitamins, for example, folate at 115 mcg, B6 at 600 mcg and thiamin at 400 mcg. And a cup of walnuts will contain 115 milligrams of calcium, 185 milligrams of magnesium and 516 milligrams of potassium. Walnuts are also high in manganese – with 200% of US Daily Value. Walnuts are also rich in selenium and phytosterols.
But it is walnuts’ omega-3 content that blows the doors off of most foods, at 10,623 milligrams of omega-3s per cup. Much of this comes in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Healthy livers convert ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) as needed, at a rate of between 7% and 36%. Studies of men and women conducted at the UK’s University of Southampton found an average conversion rate of 36% from ALA to EPA, DHA and other N-3s in women and 16% in men. The liver converts ALA using the delta-6-desaturase and elongase enzymes.
Note that the omega-3s from fish are also often accompanied by saturated fats. We discuss saturated fats and sperm counts below. Note also that plant omega-3s are better than fish oil for the cardiovascular system.
It is not surprising that walnuts have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, improve artery health, reduce blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Saturated fats decrease sperm count
Meanwhile, saturated fats have the opposite effect upon sperm counts.
In a 2011 study, Harvard researchers determined that diets high in saturated fats significantly reduce sperm count.
The research, led by Dr. Jill Attaman, a professor at Dartmouth Medical School, analyzed the diets of 99 men and cross-referenced those diets with their sperm count. The researchers also measured fatty acid levels within their sperm and seminal plasma in 23 of the men.
The 99 men studied were 89% Caucasian with an average age of 36 years old. 71% of the men were overweight (U.S. average is 74%), and 33% were smokers (U.S. average for men is about 24%).
After eliminating confounders, they found that higher total fat consumption was associated with lower sperm count. Those with the highest (upper 33%) total fat consumption had 43% less sperm count and 38% fewer sperm concentration as compared to the men who ate less (the lowest third) total fats.
As they looked more closely at the association, they concluded, “This association was driven by intake of saturated fats.”
They also found that those men consuming higher levels of omega-3 fats – contained in nuts, seeds, legumes, algae and fish – had significantly higher sperm counts and concentration.
This study was confirmed by another recent study that found among 211 men that sperm counts significantly increased over a 32-week period with the supplementation of omega-3 fats. Sperm counts rose nearly 75% during the period and motility increased dramatically.
Drugs, alcohol and smoking are also associated with lower sperm counts according to other research. But some herbs and nutrients will also boost sperm counts.
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Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.